Breastfeeding can be an all-consuming process, particularly in the beginning, leaving a new mother feeling drained, thirsty and starving. It takes a lot of energy to produce milk for a growing baby, so you need to keep up your calorie count while nursing. According to La Leche League International, an ideal diet for a nursing mother is the same one that’s healthiest for everyone -- varied, balanced and full of whole, nutritious foods.
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The exact number of calories that a nursing mother needs depends on a multitude of factors, including how active she is and how much body fat she has, according to La Leche League International. The general recommendation is that she should eat around 500 extra calories a day, on top of what she needs to sustain regular daily living. Therefore, if a woman regularly needs 1,800 calories a day, she should bump that up to around 2,300 calories per day while breastfeeding. This isn't a one-size-fits-all recommendation, however, as La Leche League International indicates, this number might be too low for some and too high for others. Speak to your doctor about exactly how many calories you need to eat, particularly if you notice a problem with your milk supply.